Temples prepare for Passover, change holiday traditions

ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7)-- Worshipers across Southwest Virginia are finding new ways to keep their faith and that means some major changes to the way they celebrate holy holidays.

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For Temple Emanuel, Passover celebrations are going to look a lot different this year, because of the coronavirus.

Instead of welcoming worshipers to their seats, this week they are meeting them at their cars.

"You do what you have to do given the circumstances," Temple Emanuel Member Binki Teitlebaum said.

This is the first time in 70 years Teitlebaum will not be participating in a traditional Seder, which is the religious meal that is used to celebrate Passover.

"So it's going to be strange," she said.

The temple's rabbi wanted to make sure everyone still had the supplies they needed to take part in the holiday. So they transformed their parking lot into a drive-through, handing out matzah and prayer booklets.

"You do not know how strong a community is until it is tested, and this has been quite the tremendous test," Rabbi Kathy Cohen said.

For weeks the temple has been streaming services and even special occasions like a wedding online.

"It does show how creative and inventive we can all be when pushed to the edge," Cohen said.

Creativity that keeps their faith strong.

"It's just important to keep Judaism alive," Teitlebaum said.

And their community even stronger.

"And we have found our connections to one another is significantly stronger than this pandemic," Cohen said.

The temple plans to stream its Seder on Zoom so anyone in the congregation can participate. They will also continue to broadcast their weekly services on Facebook.

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